October 4, 2006
Laura Bush's Top Five Books
Why We Read
The books that inspired me to champion literacy.
BY LAURA BUSH
Saturday, September 30, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
1. "Hop on Pop" by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1963).
Selecting books with the most personal meaning is very difficult for a librarian--it's like asking which are your favorite children. Among children's books, "Hop on Pop" has a lot of personal meaning for me. It features Dr. Seuss's typically wonderful illustrations and rhymes ("SEE BEE THREE Now we see three"), of course, but the main thing for me is the family memory--the loving memory--that the book evokes of George lying on the floor and reading it to our daughters, Barbara and Jenna. They were little bitty things, and they took "Hop on Pop" literally, and jumped on him--we have the pictures to prove it.
2. The "Little House" Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Harper, 1932-43).
I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and I identified with Laura because of her name and her brown hair. But there were other reasons that they were important to me: I read them with my mother, and they gave me a whole sense of our country--the sense of what life was like as a pioneering family traveled across 19th-century America. You followed along as Laura grew up, and then you moved on to the young-adult books of the series, like "These Happy Golden Years," when Laura becomes a teacher and marries her suitor, Almanzo. These books--about a loving and warm family life, about parents who expected the best for each and every one of their children--represent what I view as genuine American values.
3. "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1880).
As I grew up I found "The Brothers Karamazov" to be one of the deepest, most interesting of books I read--one that was the most fun to re-read. Maybe I shouldn't say "fun," given that it is about spiritual struggle, but to read it over and over again at various times in my life was always rewarding. That includes the time I read the book while sitting by a swimming pool in Houston, when I worked as a teacher in the early 1970s. Though the book was Russian, there was always a sort of Texas heat about this memory. Later, when George and I lived in Dallas, I took literature courses at the Dallas Institute, and of course we read "The Brothers Karamazov." But it is such an endless well of ideas on human character that this book is always one I'd be ready to pick up and read again.
4. "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott (1868).
"Little Women," Louisa May Alcott's book about a Civil War family, is one I remember vividly, first from reading with my mother when I was little. She read it to me before I could read. The impression it made just shows how important it is to have parents who read and who read to you. That's how every one of us librarians ended up where we did: making our careers out of reading because we loved it so much. First I was a teacher and then, since what I liked best about teaching was reading and sharing literature with children, I became a librarian. Now it is the whole focus of my life, really. And it all started with my mother's love of reading books like "Little Women" to me. I went on to read it on my own, then with friends and my own children.
5. "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain (1884).
"Huckleberry Finn" is another of those books that I value greatly, that I read a number of times. It is a classic American work--with its themes of freedom and independence and Huck's coming of age as he flees on a raft down the Mississippi to avoid "sivilizing" back home--and one that is important to our country. The pleasure to be had from reading a book like "Huckleberry Finn" is one reason why, I believe, there is a renewed interest in reading in this country. There are book clubs all over. I see that my girls and their friends all read, and they love to trade books and talk about books they like. Reading has been such an important part, such an incredible center of my life, that I would like for everyone, especially American students, to know how rewarding it can be.
Mrs. Bush is hosting--with James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress--the Library of Congress's National Book Festival in Washington this weekend.
Posted by kstover2 at 7:17 PM
Google's Literacy Project
FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuters) -- Google Inc. unveiled on Wednesday a Web site dedicated to literacy, pulling together its books, video, mapping and blogging services to help teachers and educational organizations share reading resources.
The site was launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest gathering of publishing executives, in conjunction with the United Nations and a literacy campaign organized by fair officials.
While the service seeks to combine a rich set of resources to combat global illiteracy, it also helps bolster the educational credentials at a company with a market value of around $120 billion.
"Google's business was born out of a desire to help people find information," said Nikesh Arora, vice president of Google's European operations.
"We hope this site will serve as a bridge to even greater communication and access to important information about literacy problems -- and solutions," he added.
More than 1 billion people around the world over the age of 15 are considered illiterate, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The project, at google.com/literacy and google.de/literacy, also serves as a fresh way for Google to expand and differentiate its fledgling video service, which is playing catch-up against popular sites such as YouTube.
Google has asked literacy groups around the world to upload video segments explaining and demonstrating their successful teaching programs. Among the first few hundred to be posted is a same-language subtitle project from India that uses Bollywood films to teach reading.
A nonprofit group in New York called 826NYC is helping a group of six-to-nine-year-olds make a video tutorial for Google, while a set of older kids is filming a claymation short.
"When our students see the Web as something they can contribute to -- rather than just browse through -- they're inspired to think bigger, write more and film more," said Joan Kim, the group's director of education.
The service also uses Google's mapping technology to help literacy organisations find each other, and provides links to reading resources.
Google embarked two years ago on a massive project to digitally scan all of the world's books, a plan that has been embraced by some publishers and pilloried by others who consider it copyright violation. A group of them have filed a lawsuit against Google in the United States.
Posted by kstover2 at 7:15 PM